Tales from the Jungle: February, Sloth Love Month

Tales from the Jungle: February, Sloth Love Month

February is the month for love. And here at SloCo, we have so many things that we love (besides sloths), including, but not limited to:

Our friends and family of course!

Every day. All of them. Even Cousin Jerry, who does that weird thing with the tuna cans on the front porch.

We love our pets too! Really, we just love all animals.

February 26th is Love Your Pet Day, and February 27th is World Spay and Neuter Day! Help make sure every puppy has a loving home by keeping pet populations manageable.

Caring for our dogs also helps sloths and wildlife. We received a report this month from our friends at Colina Secreta Glamping, members of the Sloth Friendly Network, showing us their dog (a beautiful boxer called Sakura) keeping a safe distance from a sloth that was crawling over a road. Sakura was part of our Dog Academy, proving that education really does work for everybody!

Just like every month since 2019, we are committed to spaying and neutering 10 rescued dogs in our community, free of charge. By humanely controlling the dog population, we can reduce dog attacks on sloths and other wildlife, reduce the number of dogs in the street (and exposed to hazardous traffic), and keep down zoonotic diseases.

Last year we also organized three major castration clinics, and this year we’re aiming to have our first one ready to go by April. If you love dogs and sloths, please consider supporting our Oh My Dog project!

We love Pangolins and how weird they are, just like our beloved sloths!

You can learn more about this in our “Sloth vs Pangolin” blog entry, published on February 19th for World Pangolin Day. (We love that pangolins have their own holiday! How awesome is that?)

We love promoting girls and women in science!

Women are still not fully represented in STEM fields, and here at SloCo we like to lead by example and show girls that they can both study and lead in scientific careers.

February 11th was Girls and Women in Science Day, created to celebrate the importance of making the fields of science and conservation approachable to young girls. Check out these photos of young Becky Cliffe (now Dr. Rebecca Cliffe), as she goes from pointing out frogs on a puddle as a child, to pointing out sloths on the canopy!

Perhaps most of all, we really love finding hope in unexpected places.

This month, after the dust settled on some illegal logging and bulldozers that destroyed a portion of Luna’s territory, we discovered that she has survived the transgression and is thriving.

Not only did our dear Luna survive, but she also gave birth to a new baby! We named her baby “Celeste”.

This has been an important lesson to us humans about the power of resilience. We have been monitoring Luna for almost a year, and she has shown us so much about the power of nature to persevere and regenerate.

Do you know what we love more than installing wildlife bridges?

Seeing sloths use them to cross safely! This month we received several reports of our bridges being utilized by sloths and monkeys, and we couldn’t be happier!


So far we’ve installed almost 140 sloth crossing in the South Caribbean of Costa Rica, creating a true grid of connected habitats!

We love Luiza, our newest sloth for the Urban Sloth Project

On February 16th we found a lovely three-fingered sloth on the ground near Luna’s home territory. We took our chances and quickly fitted her with a collar and backpack. If you would like to have updates on Luiza, Luna, and the other eight sloths we are currently monitoring, subscribe to our VIP program!

We hope you enjoyed your Sloth Love Month

And took some time to recharge and spread the love for the rest of the year! Stay tuned for the upcoming emails with more facts, blogs, news, fails, and of course, a lot of sloths!

As always, we want to thank you for your support and tell you how much we love having you. 

And as for me, Kokomo, this is my farewell until the next Sloth Love Month, but always remember to proudly carry the flag of Peace and Love every day of your life.

With sincere sloth love,

Sloth Love Advisor

Why did the wildlife cross the road?

Why did the wildlife cross the road?

To expand into new territories and look for mates or food. It isn’t hard to imagine why animals need to move around, but when you work in conservation, the more interesting question is: how?

There’s a road that runs through the jungles of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca in Costa Rica. Until a few years ago, it had never been properly paved. When the work crews first came through to turn it into a paved road, with smooth pavement and yellow lines, those of us who live here knew it would have an impact on the local wildlife, but we had no idea how much. The New Road, as it’s now called, meant more cars coming through faster than ever, and, to further expedite the traffic, large trees on either side of the road were cut down.


Sloth road
Sloths on the ground look more like a baby trying to crawl. / Photo: Suzi Eszterhas


Habitat fragmentation has a huge impact on the species that live there. Just like us, they need to get from point A to point B, but unlike us, white-faced capuchins don’t have driver’s licenses (probably a good thing), turtles don’t know how to use crosswalks (probably a bad thing), and snakes don’t look like obstacles until it’s too late (definitely a bad thing).

The problem of habitat fragmentation and wildlife road mortality is not unique to Costa Rica, but is a worldwide issue. In Canada over 6,000 animals per year are recorded as roadkill. These deaths are tragic to the animals involved as well as the species they represent and the biodiversity they support.

Solutions from Canada

In Canada, The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is a leader in protecting natural areas and biodiversity across the country, but the lessons learned and proven strategies for integrating natural spaces with human development are applicable everywhere.


Turtle using the passage / Credits: Long Point Causeway


NCC has supported innovative projects such as the T5 Eco Passing over a major highway in Ontario, an ambitious grassy bridge that connects large restoration areas on either side of the highway, and the Long Point Causeway Improvement Project, a community-based revitalization of the causeway linking Long Point Peninsula and Lake Erie. The conservation community has come back with a very simple answer to the question:

How does wildlife cross the road?

Back in Costa Rica, the new road through Puerto Viejo has an average elevation of about 10 centimeters above sea level and frequently runs through the Maritime Zone, which is fewer than 50 meters from the coastline, making the “under” solution problematic. Water tables are so high most of the year that even shallow holes quickly flood.

Solutions from Costa Rica

Armed with durable lengths of green rope, a few courageous tree climbers, and a three-meter-long slingshot (yes, really), The Sloth Conservation Foundation’s (SloCo’s) and its Sloth Crossing Project team have installed over 130 bridges connecting giant jungle trees across high-traffic areas along Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.


A single rope Sloth Crossing wildlife bridge
A single rope Sloth Crossing wildlife bridge


Sloths, monkeys, kinkajou, possums, tree frogs, and dozens of other animals are very happy to move from tree to tree without ever setting foot on the ground — or near the road. These simple bridges look like a tightrope of thick, green cable, and are installed 15 or more meters above the road. Large trucks can pass safely underneath, and the nimble canopy dwellers can climb along overhead.

The next stage

SloCo will soon be launching Phase 2 of the Sloth Crossing Project, which is to install cameras along the ropes to monitor how many and what kinds of wildlife the sloths share bridges with.


camera trap crossing


People and wildlife both need to get where they are going as safely as possible. The good news is that these requirements are not mutually exclusive! Reducing traffic collisions is in everybody’s best interest, and one thing proven by conservationists around the world is that where there’s a will, there’s a way. All it takes is an open mind and a little bit of imagination.

-Ames Reedder

In collaboration with NCC

Sloths and Palm Oil: how can you help?

The world is waking up to the palm oil crisis that has driven orangutans to the brink of extinction, but is boycotting palm oil really the answer? Unfortunately no, but that doesn’t mean that we are powerless.

Last week the UK supermarket chain Iceland shone the international spotlight on palm oil after its controversial Christmas TV advert was banned from British television. The advert, which depicts an orangutan hiding in a child’s bedroom after loggers destroyed his rainforest home, has now been watched over 30 million times online making it one of the most successful Christmas adverts ever created. Similar to the anti-plastic movement that is sweeping across the world, this advert has stimulated an uproar against the palm oil industry. While it has been overwhelmingly successful at raising awareness of a very important issue, fears are growing as increasing numbers of people are demanding a boycott on palm oil. This is dangerous.

Palm oil is used in approximately 50% of everything that we buy, ranging from food and shoes to cosmetics and cleaning products. It is everywhere and the demand is huge. Consequently, palm oil plantations are responsible for the majority of Malaysian and Indonesian deforestation, with a football pitch-sized area of forest being cleared every 25 seconds in Indonesia alone! However this is not just an issue affecting Asia. Palm oil plantations are also springing up in place of the sloths rainforest habitat in South and Central America, further adding to the ecosystem destruction occurring due to crops such as soy, bananas and animal agriculture.

Boycotting palm oil, however, doesn’t mean that manufactures will simply remove oil from their products all together. It simply means that they will be forced to replace it with a different kind of vegetable oil. Unfortunately, palm oil is already the worlds most productive oil crop. All alternative oils such as soybean and rapeseed require up to 10 times more land to produce the same amount of product – increasing demand on these crops would be even worse. In addition, boycotting palm oil will drive the price down, consequently increasing the demand for use in biofuel and livestock feed, particularly in countries such as China and India.

So what can we do?
Thankfully the answer applies to all aspects of consumerism, and will have benefits for species and habitats globally (including sloths!): sustainable shopping. Think carefully about the products that you buy because as the consumer, you have the power. Only choose products from manufacturers and retailers who use ingredients from sustainable, certified, legal and deforestation-free sources. They exist, you just have to know which ones to look for! We know this sounds like a lot of hard work – who has time to read every label and search online for every product that you want to buy? But the good news is you don’t have to! There is a wonderful (and free!) bar-code scanning app called Giki that will do all of the hard work for you. Just scan the product that you want to buy and it will tell you all of the information you could ever want to know about that product. Whether it’s local pollution, global climate change, conservation, animal welfare or health, it will give you everything that you need to make an informed decision! Thankfully, using this app will also help you to avoid fruit and produce that is contributing to the sloth deformity epidemic in Costa Rica by way of rampant pesticide usage and forest fragmentation. It’s a win for everybody!

Do Sloths drink water?

Do Sloths drink water?

You have probably never seen a sloth drinking water. In fact, very few people have! As a result, it has been assumed for centuries that sloths get all of the water they need from the fresh rainforest leaves that they eat, and few documented observations exist of either of the two sloth genera drinking in the wild.

We photographed a male brown‐throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus) lapping water from the surface of a river in Costa Rica. Our latest work ‘Sloths hanging out for a drink’ has just been published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.



This sighting prompts many additional questions. For example, how widespread is drinking behavior and how frequently does it occur? Methods used to assess water retention in wild sloths suggest that this behavior seldom occurs, so drinking is likely a method of maintaining osmotic balance when faced with extreme ambient temperatures, low precipitation, or increased consumption of mature (ie drier) leaves.



If freshwater access is indeed important, there are further implications relating to the captive husbandry of sloths in zoos and rescue centers (where they often face drier climes, typically don’t have access to water, and have a very low survival rate), and for conservation, especially after habitat fragmentation, where changes in land use can restrict water access (eg irrigation diverting stable water sources, roads that are difficult for strictly arboreal animals to cross).

Moving forward, the predicted trend toward a hotter, drier climate for Central and South American rainforests may negatively impact the sloths’ potentially delicate water balance, particularly in view of their limited energy budget and inability to travel long distances. If all sloths need a drink from time to time to stay healthy, it’s important to make sure they can get one.


drinking water


-Dr. Rebecca Cliffe